I noticed this big prediction recently from BMW:
“We are on the way to deliver a car in 2021 with level 3, 4 and 5,” said Elmar Frickenstein, BMW’s Senior Vice President for Autonomous Driving.
Self driving cars are rated on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being fully autonomous. Regulation aside for a moment, a level 5 vehicle doesn’t need a steering wheel at all. It is fully capable of completing all trips in all likely terrain fully autonomously.
BMW is partnering with Intel, and Intel’s recent Mobileye acquisition to hit this goal. It’s a really aggressive goal and demonstrates the huge amount of R&D flowing into self-driving vehicles now that the technology has come along far enough to make it happen.
It is not a good time to be any kind of professional driver – taxi drivers and truck drivers, in particular, should be looking to re-train. Logistics firms will clearly be looking to capitalise quickly, and we can expect a solid amount of related disruption within 10 years.
One interesting spin on self-driving vehicles, is that many people are predicting that car ownership will mostly disappear. It’s going to be much more efficient to simply use cars on demand – hit an app and a car will drive itself to your house in minutes.
Considering that more than 80% of cars are usually parked rather than driving at any particular time, this future will open up huge amounts of new space. Old car parks can be re-purposed, the sides of most urban streets can be opened up, driveways become available for other uses. There will be plenty of companies leaping to use all of this space as it emerges in the heart of our densest populations.
Here is the related Intel / BMW press release.